The Holidays At My House

by Cori Bulgrin, http://neovox.cortland.edu, December 3, 2010

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In any house the preparations and celebrations for the holiday season start the day after Thanksgiving, maybe even the week before if you consider Thanksgiving as part of the holidays. But if you're in my family, the holidays begin before Halloween: that's what I said - HALLOWEEN!

You're probably wondering "why all this holiday spirit?" and the answer to this question is - my mother. My mother absolutely loves Christmas; I believe that if she could, she would do Christmas once a month, or as much as my dad would let her. I have never seen someone love Christmas as much as she does. She has loved Christmas ever since she was little. As a child her parents didn't make a lot of money; but she always said that my grandparents made sure all four children got presents and had a good Christmas. Ill never forget the story she told me that one Christmas my mother and her 3 siblings opened presents on Christmas eve because they were so excited. When they woke up Christmas morning and there was nothing to open they were all so sad, and they all said they would never do it again. This is why my sister and I were never ever allowed to open any gifts early.

My mother loves every aspect of Christmas. She really enjoys sending our Christmas cards, decorating our house, buying, and, of course, wrapping presents (which are wrapped in a different color theme every year). She loves planning for the holiday with the rest of my family, and hosting Christmas day at our house.

Christmas has always been a major event for my family. We celebrate Christmas for what seems like forever. We attend church on Christmas Eve, and after church we go to my neighbor's house to join in their holiday party every year. After this party we have Christmas Eve at my grandmother's house (on my father's side). We call her "Oma" which is German for grandma. My aunt and uncle and cousins come over, and we exchange presents and catch up on lost time. We try and make this night special because we don't see this side of the family any other time during Christmas.

One of my favorite traditions on this night is that my grandmother still gets my sister, my two cousins, and I our favorite bags of chips for each one of us to have, even though I am 21 and my oldest cousin is 25. After Christmas Eve at my Oma's house we go back to our house and my sister and I give our parents their presents from us. It's a nice little tradition that I don't want to lose. We will end the night by watching "The Christmas Story" till we fall asleep.

On Christmas day my sister and I receive our presents from "Santa" under the tree. I should probably tell you that our color-coordinated wrapped gifts still say "from Santa"; my mother also still leaves cookies, milk, and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. The cookies and carrots are always bitten and the milk is always finished. Right after all the gifts have been exchanged, my sister and I help my mother prepare for the crowd of people that will be invading our house. We have a huge family and a not-so-huge house. We have tons of food and presents and we also have dance-offs. People normally don't leave our house until the early morning hours because it is always so much fun.

Now back to what I was saying about my mother starting Christmas extremely early; it all starts out with the e-mail telling us to send her our Christmas lists. This e-mail normally comes the first week of September. My mother likes to shop early for the big day so it doesn't fall onto her all at once. But this eagerness to start shopping is also because she has so many presents to buy, and boy, does she love buying presents. After the e-mail for our Christmas lists, comes November 1. That means that I receive a phone call from my mother letting me know that the "Sounds of the Season" channel on our Cable box has begun to play Christmas music; from that point on there is nothing playing in our house besides Christmas music.

As the Christmas music is turned on, the decorations come out. My mother has recently become obsessed with decorating our chandelier that hangs in our dining room. It was my job last year to make it look pretty so she can show all her friends how talented "she" is. Along with the chandelier decorations comes all the little Christmas crafts me and my sister have ever made; the Pringles can that was turned into a Santa Clause with red construction paper that is now faded and a cotton ball beard, and the baby food jars that are covered with tissue paper and glitter so they can be candle holders. I ask her all the time why we still have them and if we can throw them away. She yells at me and tells me how much she loves them, and couldn't bear to give them up. It's a losing battle every year but I will not stop trying.

After the Christmas decorations come our yearly trip to New York City where my parents, sister, and I stay for a night and see a play. This trip has become extremely special to our family because it kicks off our holiday season and it brings us back together as a family since my sister and I have been off at school for a few months. After our trip to the city, my sister and I go back to school for the remainder of the semester; while me and my sister are back at school preparing for finals my mother is still home listening to Christmas music and still finding more places to put more decorations. I forgot to mention that along with November 1st - the music - and the decorations - comes the Christmas movies. I'm not exaggerating when I say that she watches a Christmas movie every night once the Christmas music goes one. It does not matter how many times she has seen It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas, she still watches them every year 10 million times.

The next step in our Christmas extravaganza is when my sister and I return home for winter break and we get enlisted to a) start decorating the outside of the house with Christmas lights and b) start making Christmas cookies; because three different types of cookies wouldn't be enough for my small army of a family. My mother insists on at least twenty - five different kinds. She makes the best cookies; she makes cookies with raspberry filling, cookies with oatmeal, half moon cookies, and chocolate chip. My favorite cookies are the raspberry filled cookies because they have a bit of frosting on top. My family always sneaks cookies in the days leading up to Christmas and she gets mad but we can't help it.

In the days leading up to Christmas Eve my house is buzzing with activity. My mother is doing last-minute shopping and cooking, my sister and I are working trying to save up money for our own Christmas gifts as well as shopping, and my dad is basically trying to help out as much as he can. The actual day of Christmas Eve is always wonderful and magical. The mood is my house and amongst my family is excitement and anticipation. My mother cleans up the house before my uncle gets there, she lights all the Christmas scented candles, and turns on the Christmas music. She also turns on a set of trains that run under the Christmas tree that belonged to my grandfather.

On Christmas day; times seems to fly so quickly as my whole family gathers in my house to have another great Christmas. The music is blasting in all parts of the house, all my younger cousins are playing downstairs and my mom and aunts are upstairs cooking more food, and all my uncles are watching football. When we open up presents there are mountains of wrapping paper and black garbage bags, and there is always some one every year that loses a gift.

The day after Christmas is almost like a Christmas hangover. You spend four months preparing for this one day and its over in a flash (direct quote from my mother). The mood at my house after Christmas is sad, and tired. We have tons of left-overs and cleaning up to do. My sister and I help my dad take out all the boxes and garbage bags, as my mother is standing behind us saying "Ohhhhh, I wish it wasn't over" (another direct quote from my mother). But it's normally just a relaxing day where more Christmas music and movies are playing.

Christmas has been a major part of my family my entire life, and it is all because of my mother. My mother has also made me love Christmas just as much as she does. She makes every part of Christmas unique. She makes sure everything is perfect. My mother uses everything Christmas has to offer, from the scented candles, the Christmas colored Oreos, Santa Claus plates from Target. I could go on and on but all the little details help to make our holidays that much better. She always wants to make sure every little detail is perfect, such as the ribbons she uses to tie the gifts; they have to be color-coordinated and beautiful. She does everything she can to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and has a wonderful Christmas. We have our own family traditions and I would never change any of them for anything else. I wish I was a better writer so I can convey to you how amazing our Christmas and my mother are. I also know that everyone has their own traditions when it comes to the holidays, and I have been able to witness many other people traditions; but for some reason no one makes the holidays as special as my mom does. I hope that one day I could make my kids love Christmas as much and my mother and I do, and I hope I will be able to make Christmas as special as she does.

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